Lost in a Found Paradise (July 31st-August 2nd)

So we decided as a group to see the northern land of South East Asia before heading south. As a result, we hopped on a bus heading towards the east side of Thailand near Cambodia. We planned to spend a few days on the island of Ko Chang. After a 6 hour ride to Trat, then a 30 minute ferry, we found ourselves renting motorbikes at the port. Ruthless got a moped since shifting gears wasn’t one of her many talents, while Michelle, Shane P, and I got on some wild hogs that none of us knew how to ride. I figured it would be an adventure in itself, and it didn’t let me down.

We all got the hang of it in no time. Riding with our huge backpacks wasn’t any big deal either, they just sat snug to us. We set out from the port looking for a place to stay. The sun set while on the forty minute drive. We turned on a dirt road for about 2km, and found ourselves truly in paradise! Follow me here, let me try and explain this.

Imagine hundreds of palm trees (and only palm trees) blowing at a warm, steady pace. The rustling of the palm fronds was accompanied by the sound of the crashing waves at high tide. About 15 bungalows, all with thatched roofs and walls dusted the treeline, perched above the soft sand. The sky was black, but the moon illuminated the curves of the coast and the white caps of the sea. There was no one, not even a worker to hand us over a key. We ended up pushing in the shutters of two bungalows and snuck in the windows. Kathleen was upset, since she fell off her moped into a puddle, but other than that, the night couldn’t have been any more beautiful. So beautiful in fact, Michelle and i decided to sprint into the ocean to be tumbled by the relentless waves. After frolicking in the surf, we returned to the bungalow and under mosquito netting, the thatched roof, blowing palm trees, and beautiful stars, we drifted away into a dream world that could not even compare to how truly beautiful the reality was around us.

The next day, do to the puddle incident, the one moped was having some trouble. We walked it back to the main street, where we ordered breakfast while trying to get it started. We finally got it revving, and i took it out for a little spin. When i was right in front of the restaurant, I hit a soft shoulder and completely wiped out. I did a couple rolls and scratched up the bike a bit. Everyone was staring, even though i popped up immediately and tried to pretend nothing happened. In fact, my first words were ‘The elephant ride is that way’ (since i saw some people riding elephants) and now that line is an inside joke for when someone trips or falls. I guess it was something you had to be there to see for yourself. Everyone was laughing, fortunately all i got was scrapes on my elbows and knees. We called back the rental place to come pick up the bike. Ruthless didn’t feel safe riding anymore.

We checked out different bungalows down the road, this time having to pay 100 Baht, that’s about 3 bucks. We dropped off our stuff, then headed to the other end of the island. Michelle and I each had our own motorcycle, while ruthless rolled on the back of Shane’s. The backside of the island was gorgeous, We passed several tiny villages wedged between the ocean and the mountains. We headed down an old abandoned road which stopped at a rocky river. We hopped off our bikes and began trekking up the stream.

Not before long, I noticed a smaller creek joining the river we were walking. There was a flat rock that had quick water trickling over it, ‘Slide’ immediately came to my mind as i climbed to the top. My plan was to go down slow, but the slick flat rock offered little resistance. Fortunately, at the bottom of the 10 ft drop, I was able to stop myself with my flip flops. Michelle’s landing wasn’t as graceful. She climbed up, then pushed off. She got some serious air before smacking her backside on a very non forgiving stone. She was the one laughing the loudest, so we figured she was fine. Later she had some bruises to help her remember the occasion.

Upon continuing our mini-trek up river, we found ourselves completely surrounded by little native dudes with big knifes. No one here speaks English, so at first we had no idea what was happening. We didn’t want to stir up any controversy on their turf, plus it was starting to get dark so we turned back towards the road. When we reached our motorbikes we realized what the Thai people were doing. They were collecting rubber they had tapped from the trees. We had purchased a large bottle of wine, so we offered them some with open arms. Before we knew it, we had five new friends sitting and drinking with us in the jungle.

We stopped back for dinner at a tiny little restaurant for some curry and rice. We then drank even some more wine when we returned back to our room. Mixing alcohol in paradise is always a good combination in my opinion, and before long, all 4 of us were sprinting naked to the beautiful warm water. Welcome to paradise!!

The following day we planned to leave Ko Chang. After breakfast, we strapped on our gear and drove to the port. We has a couple hours to spare, so we left our backpacks with Ruthless at the dock and cruised down the Eastern Coast. Ko Chang was a bit touristy, but there was something truly enchanting about this place. Rolling down the vacant highway, you would breathe in a sense of freedom and exhale inner peace (cheesy I know, but it’s how I felt). After passing palm tree and orange-sanded beaches, we decided to drop off our motorbikes and catch the 6:30pm ferry back to the mainland.

Ko Chang had everything you would want in a Thai island. Friendly people, good food, and beautiful landscape. Renting motorbikes allowed us escape from conformity, while splashing naked allowed glimpse into our unconstrained spirits.  Ko Chang and it’s memories will be remembered for as long as I live, for paradise isn’t where you are, but how you feel when you are there…..Here, with no doubt, I was ‘Living the Dream’!!!

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